A more intense, and action-packed fun, novel would be hard pressed to find. This is a very gritty story with well-developed characters full of tense moments. Stirling does an outstanding job with the blow-by-blow moments and intense descriptions all designed to heighten the moment when action does occur. I especially enjoyed the contrasts between being a parent and being a ruler illustrating conflicts and how being a parent is much simpler, though just as intense, when dealing with disobedient daughters!
John Mackenzie is the son of a king. He is sent on a journey, one fraught with death-defying moments of action and inaction. If he succeeds in surviving, what will his role in the family develop during this time. And whether his sister survives while he's gone, could determine his fate.
At one point on the ship, fate steps in and hands him a mess: enemy ships coming, a hurricane coming, and only one ship against those odds will survive these hardiest of tests. If John survives, how will he be changed? And if his sister, the princess, survives, what will his role in the family and country be? Only John can decide what and how he will change, it's how it happens that makes this journey complete.
Stirling makes it clear from the start this book is about change, and he does not deviate from that task. Not one iota! Instead, he builds his character development into the moments when courage is needed or intelligence to aid his young character. When one is in flux, like Stirling illustrates, then the characters have to walk through a ring of fire to come out on the other side, completely different, yet the same: i.e. changed. And Stirling is a master at this craft of illustrating just that!
“[An] epic series,”* the Novels of the Change by New York Times bestselling author S. M. Stirling chronicle a postapocalyptic landscape of medieval and mystical monarchies ruling and warring across a world where mysterious Powers removed advanced technology. A new alliance has been forged between the High Kingdom of Montival and the Empire of Japan, but at the cost of a lost prince...
John Arminger Mackenzie wanted to be a troubadour, but fate made him the son of the king of Montival. His sister Princess Órlaith will deservedly inherit the throne of the High Kings, and it will only pass unto him in the event of her death, leaving the young Prince on an unknown path to discover his true role in the family.
The opportunity to prove his mettle comes when John’s ship, the Tarshish Queen, is caught in the fierce storm raised against the enemies of the alliance. When the clouds recede and the skies clear, John and his crew find themselves on the other side of the Pacific, in the island chains of the Ceram Sea, fighting to survive against vicious pirates and monstrous creatures of the deep, meeting new allies and mysterious enemies of this world and another.
Now, Prince John must seize his birthright and lead his people in battle against the darkest forces man and nature can conjure against them.